Vacant warehouse fires spark asbestos concerns

INDIANAPOLIS - Over the course a year, three large fires have destroyed abandoned warehouses across Indianapolis. Each fire has highlighted health concerns for firefighters and the surrounding communities worried about asbestos.

Last June, a warehouse on Belmont Avenue burned. Three months later, a warehouse burned on Van Buren Street and last Friday, another warehouse on Van Buren Street caught fire.

The abandoned south-side warehouse that caught fire on Friday contained asbestos and that worries neighbors who are concerned about possible health risks.

Friday’s warehouse fire was the second in less than a year. An adjacent building burned and asbestos tiles burning on the roof created hazardous conditions for both firefighters and onlookers, many who said the building should have been demolished years ago.

"Torn down or do what's necessary to make it safe for the public and people around here," homeowner Scott Logston said.

Warnings have been posted around the site. City officials said the owner has been cooperating and has hired a licensed asbestos cleaning company.

"In this situation, we've got a property owner that's been very responsive. More than likely by the time we get that phone call, his people are cleaning it up," Adam Baker with Indianapolis Department Of Code Enforcement said.

Neighbors want both buildings torn down. They are concerned that someone is starting the fires and will do it again, which endangers firefighters and risks the long-term health of the community.

The cause of Friday’s fire has yet to be determined.

Follow Chris Proffitt on Twitter: @chrisproffitt

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